I started reading Napoleon Chagnon’s Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes — the Yanomamo and the Anthropologists. The first fifty pages are excellent fun and well-constructed, though I cannot speak to the details of his claims about the frequency of conflict or the motivation of conflict by sexual competition for women. At some point, however, I realized I don’t want to read an entire book on either tribe, at least not at this moment. I am not suggesting that the book gets worse, but my interest did ebb.
I do not have a view about the controversies surrounding Chagnon, and ultimately that is what should decide the merits of this work. Here is Dreger’s systematic defense of Chagnon. Here is a survey of the Chagnon disputes. I wonder if he has ended up with less credibility from having the first name “Napoleon”?